I wrote a piece yesterday covering the confusion that is occuring when readers try to book a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher trip by adding a return flight to an existing one-way booking.
This isn’t the only bit of Avios booking confusion at the moment.
There is also confusion at the British Airways call centre over Gold Priority Rewards.
What is a Gold Priority Reward?
Very simply, a British Airways Gold member can book a seat on ANY BA flight using Avios. The catch is that you have to use DOUBLE the normal amount.
You cannot use an American Express 2-4-1 voucher. You cannot book on BA CityFlyer services from London City Airport. Your flight must be booked more than 30 days before departure.
These rewards are poor value for long haul – how does 240,000 Avios + £550ish of tax for a return to Dubai in Club World sound? For short-haul European bookings, these rewards have some use. Let’s take our standard run to Hamburg to visit the parents in law.
A standard Avios reward ticket on a peak day is 9,000 Avios + £35 taxes
A ‘Priority Reward’ would cost me 18,000 Avios + £35 taxes
Let’s look at the costs here. If a flight has no Avios availability, it is likely to be a busy flight. This means that the cash price is also likely to be higher than average. Let’s assume we are heading to Heathrow from school on a Friday afternoon and need to be on a particular service.
Assume £175 return to Hamburg for cash in Economy, Friday night to Sunday night, booked six weeks in advance. Knock off the £35 Reward Flight Saver tax charge and I am saving £140 for using 18,000 Avios points.
This is not the greatest use of Avios by any means – we are looking at 0.78p per point.. However, I am locking in a hard cash saving and I get to travel on the exact flights I want, with flexibility to cancel if a last minute birthday party invite comes in. 0.78p per point is also not a terrible deal.
Importantly, I also can cancel the BA ‘Gold Priority Reward’ and switch to a normal reward at any point as long as seats open up.
The best use of Gold Priority Rewards flights is for ski resorts at February half term. British Airways likes to push up economy tickets to £500 if you want Saturday to Saturday – which is what the hotels often insist on – and this is an excellent way to avoid that. It arguably justifies a push for a Gold card on its own if you are getting close.
But things have changed …..
As we have covered extensively on Head for Points over the Summer, British Airways is currently trialling a new structure for short-haul Avios pricing.
As well as the standard option (9,000 Avios + £35 to Hamburg) you are now offered a series of options requiring as little as £1 in charges. This is what Hamburg shows on ba.com for a peak day:
16,000 Avios + £1
12,500 Avios + £21
9,000 Avios + £31
6,600 Avios + £71
5,600 Avios + £81
5,000 Avios + £91
You’ll note that the ‘original’ price of 9,000 Avios + £35 is not available.
How should a Gold Priority Reward be priced?
This is the million dollar question.
If you try to book a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 redemption on short-haul, you pay the ‘old’ price. In the case of Hamburg above, this would mean 9,000 Avios + £35 for ticket one and 0 Avios + £35 for ticket two.
The issue comes when trying to book a Gold Priority Reward.
You are paying ‘double Avios’. But ‘double’ what?
When I booked one on Monday, I paid what I expected to pay. 18,000 Avios (2 x 9,000 Avios) + £35. This wasn’t the Avios bargain of my life but it was reasonable versus the cash cost.
Reports from other HFP readers, however, suggest that you are often asked to pay double the lowest the cost option above. This is crazy. In the example above, I would have been asked to pay 32,000 Avios (2 x 16,000 Avios) + £1 for an economy trip to Hamburg. Given that you need to book a Gold Priority Reward 30 days in advance, you will rarely find dates where 32,000 Avios + £1 made sense.
Other reader reports suggest that agents are confused over what to charge but, after discussion with supervisors, charge the ‘old’ rate of 9,000 Avios (x 2) + £35.
So …. if you are booking a Gold Priority Reward on short-haul, make sure that you pay the correct amount. You can find the ‘old’ price in this HFP article listing the cost of all Avios reward flights, route by route and class by class.
(Want to earn more Avios? Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)